Friday, August 26, 2016

4 Ways to Conquer Summer Colds…with Condiments!

There’s nothing that makes you quite as miserable as a summer cold does. Whether you’re battling a stuffy or runny nose, a scratchy throat or one that aches, coughing, congestion, or any other symptoms of the common cold, help is a close as your kitchen. So before you drag yourself to the drugstore to stare bleary-eyed at all the OTC cold remedies on the shelves, try one or more of these spicy homemade helpers:

Horseradish. Drain clogged sinuses by taking 1 teaspoon of grated fresh horseradish up to three times a day until your symptoms subside. Horseradish works wonders whether you add it to a sandwich, spread it on a cracker, mix it into tomato juice, or eat it straight from the spoon. After you’re breathing freely again, a few teaspoons a month should help prevent future sinus woes.

Hot-pepper sauce. Fight back against cold germs by super-charging your chicken soup. Just add a generous splash of hot-pepper sauce to the pot, and slurp your way to better health. Too hot for chicken soup? Then put 10 to 20 drops into a glass of water, and drink up. Repeat the procedure three times a day until you’re rarin’ to go again.

Hot mustard. To clear up congestion, rub a generous amount of spicy brown mustard on your chest, and top it with a hot (but not burning hot!), damp cloth. The aroma of the hot mustard will clear your airways within minutes, and you’ll be breathing freely again.

Yellow mustard. Ease a sore throat with a combination of 1 tablespoon each of yellow mustard, salt, and raw honey added to the juice of half a lemon in a heat-proof container. Then pour in ½ cup of boiling water, and mix thoroughly. Let the mixture cool to lukewarm, and gargle with it two or three times. Fair warning: This remedy won’t win any awards for good flavor, but it’ll put your throat back in the swing of things fast!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Bugs Bugging You? Shoo ‘Em Away, Naturally

With all the mosquitoes, flies, and other biting and stinging insects buggin’ folks in their backyards, it’s time to take action. But rather than resorting to toxic chemicals, here's how to say “back off, bugs!” the natural way.
  • Biting insects are more attracted to certain bright colors and floral patterns. So, wearing lighter shades, like khaki, yellow, or white, will draw less attention from buzzing and bothersome bugs and go a long way toward keeping you bite-free.
  • Forget the chemical insect repellents. A dab of geranium or lavender essential oil works just as well, and you’ll smell great, too!
  •  If wasps are ruining your barbecue, fill a hand-held spray bottle with white vinegar, adding a squirt or two of dishwashing liquid. Then shake it up, and let ‘er rip—those bad-news bugs will drop in their tracks!
  • Drain any areas of standing water to keep them from becoming mosquito breeding grounds. Then, to really send mosquitoes packing, overspray your yard 3 times a week in the evening with my Buzz Buster Lemonade: Mix 1 cup of lemon-scented ammonia and 1 cup of lemon-scented dishwashing liquid in a 20 gallon hose-end sprayer, filling the balance of the sprayer jar with warm water.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Attack of the Fire Ants!

The southern part of our country is cursed with several species of imported fire ants. And I’ve heard from plenty of folks over the years who tell me the little devils deliver a sting that would put any bee to shame. What’s worse, they attack in droves and the sting repeatedly. And here’s the really sobering part: Fire ants have stood up and said “boo” to just about every chemical pesticide known to man. In fact, like many other bugs, they’ve reacted to the poisonous onslaught by evolving into “superbugs” that can fend off anything the folks in white lab coats send their way.

Don’t be fooled by the visible part of a fire-ant mound — it’s only the tip of the fireberg. The excavation often extends 3 feet or more below the surface, and flitting around inside there can be as many as a quarter of a million ill-tempered ants — including up to 3,000 egg-laying queens. And in order to destroy the colony, you need to kill off every single one of those mamas. So if you’ve got one of these “castles” in your yard, don’t even think of trying to remove it yourself. Instead, call a pest-control professional, who will use one of these two weapons:

·        An insect growth regulator such as abamectin
·        Avermectin, a naturally occurring soil fungus that’s lethal to fire ants

Whatever you do, don’t let them talk you into anything more toxic — it’ll only encourage the breeding of more super ants!

Friday, August 05, 2016

Into the Drink!

Believe it or not, a simple bottle of dishwashing liquid can help ensure that you never have a major pest problem. Of course, there is one catch: You need to inspect your plants (including flowers, vegetables, woody plants, and turfgrass) every day, or at least every couple of days. That way, you can deal with any little problems before they turn into big ones. Here are some simple ways to battle pests — using that potent weapon in the plastic squeeze bottle:

Handpick them. This is the most effective way to deal with larger insect pests, such as slugs, snails, beetles, weevils, and caterpillars. Just pluck them off the plants and drown them in a bucket of water laced with a cup or so of dishwashing liquid.

Dunk them. If you’d prefer a less hands-on approach, hold a bowl of soapy water under a bug-infested plant, and jostle the leaves. The pests will tumble into the drink and drown.

Vacuum them. Put about 2 inches of soapy water into the reservoir of a wet/dry vacuum cleaner (a.k.a., a Shop-Vac®), and suck up the culprits. Or use a regular handheld model and empty the contents into a bucket of soapy water. Vacuuming works especially well for insects that tend to scamper rather than fly, like lace bugs, harlequin bugs, rose chafers, and carrot weevils.

Clip their damage off. When you find that a few leaves or stems are covered with bugs, just cut off the afflicted plant parts and stick them into a bucket of soapy water.

Pull up their plant homes. Sometimes, one plant will be seriously infested, while its neighbors are clean, or nearly so. In that case, simply throw an old sheet over the buggy plant, pull it up by the roots, and dump it into a tub of water laced with 2 cups or so of dishwashing liquid. Leave it for a minute or two, then drop in in the trash. If any stragglers have found their way to nearby plants, just handpick them off. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

3 Dangerous Delusions about Treating Cuts

If you’re still patching up cuts the same way your grandma did, here’s big news: Those time-tested techniques can actually do more harm than good.

Delusion #1: You should clean a cut thoroughly with hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol.
FACT: Both of these cleansers can damage healthy tissue around the wound and delay healing.

Delusion #2: You should apply a topical medication, such as iodine, Mercurochrome®, or Merthiolate® to fight germs.
FACT: Ultra-strong antiseptics can interfere with your body’s natural healing mechanisms. Instead, look for a product that contains natural ingredients, such as St. John’s wort, calendula, or vitamin E oil.

Delusion #3: You should keep the cut dry and let air get to it so that a scab can form.
FACT: Keeping wounds moist and scab-free helps them heal more efficiently and minimizes scarring.

Here’s the simple four-step plan for treating cuts that’s recommended by healing gurus:

1. Stop the bleeding. Cover the injury with clean padding, and apply firm pressure.

2. Clean it right. Rinse the cut under running water, or wipe dirt away with a wet cotton ball or pad.

3. Apply a natural antiseptic. Cover it with a nonstick bandage.

4. Keep it clean. Every few days, clean the wound with a mild saline solution (2 teaspoons of salt per quart of boiling water, cooled to room temperature).

NOTE: If any of the conditions below describes your gash, forget DIY treatments — get to the ER fast!
  • Blood is spurting out of the wound and/or doesn’t stop within 10 minutes.
  • You can see yellow fat or red muscle tissue.
  • It’s tide and/or jagged; and gravel or other debris is embedded in the wound.
  • The cut is on a joint 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Words to the Wise about Water

Summertime is all about water — we float on it, we kayak through it, and we frolic in its waves. And we need to drink eight glasses of it every day to maintain our good health (and good looks!), right? Wrong! While it is true that a steady supply of H2O is essential for your well-being, no scientific research supports the magic number eight. On the contrary, according to a study in the American Journal of Physiology, here’s the truth of the matter:

1. There’s no need to count. Your body will tell you when it’s time to drink up. Clue: You’ll feel thirsty (surprise!). Just to play it safe, though — because your busy mind may ignore that wake-up call — look at your urine output. If it’s brown or dark yellow, that indicates that you’re dehydrated, and you need to chug more liquid. On the other hand, if that bodily fluid is clear or close to it, you’re doing just fine.

2. You don’t have to guzzle water to keep your body sufficiently hydrated. Beverages of all kinds deliver the elixir of life. So do fruits (a single slice of watermelon boasts 10 ounces!), vegetables, and plenty of other foods.

Note: If a big thirst or a change in urine color is your only sign of dehydration, upping your fluid intake should solve the problem quickly. But if you have more severe symptoms, such as dizziness; a bad headache; a burning stomach; or dry skin, eyes, lips, and mouth — especially after exercising in a hot climate or following a bout of vomiting or diarrhea — get to the ER fast. You may need an IV drip to head off major trouble.

Friday, July 08, 2016

The Secret to Fending Off Flower Fatalities

Like turfgrass disease, flower maladies cause the most trouble in yards that are heavily treated with chemicals. But they can strike even the best-tended gardens. Fortunately, it’s easy to stop many of them in their tracks — without resorting to potentially dangerous substances that can lead to more woe than you’ve already got. The secret is simple: Take a good look at each plant every day (or as close to it as you can), and if you spot any of the following symptoms, take action right away. Don’t dawdle — even a short delay could spell the difference between a minor challenge for you and a major disaster for your plants.

Spots on leaves. Pick off all the marked leaves and toss them in the trash — not in your compost bin!

Mottled green-and-yellow leaves that are crinkled or curled up. These are signs of viruses at work. There is no cure, so pull up infected plants and throw them away immediately.

Yellowed leaves, stunted plants, and/or wilting. These may be disease symptoms, or they could signify the presence of pests, cultural problems or nutrient deficiencies. If a dose of a good all-purpose organic fertilizer doesn’t solve the problem, call your local Cooperative Extension Service and ask for help.

Keep your annual flowers blooming strong all summer long with my Flower Power Tonic:

In a watering can filled with 2 gallons of warm water, mix 1 cup of beer with 2 tablespoons each of ammonia, dishwashing liquid, fish emulsion, and whiskey, and 1 tablespoon each of corn syrup and instant tea granules. Drench your annuals every three weeks.